Remarks from the Minister of Health on COVID-19, February 11, 2022

February 11, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada 

Check against delivery
First, I would like to address some of the events that have marked the news this week.

A few days ago, my colleague Joël Lighbound held a press conference in this very room.

I have a lot of friendship, esteem and affection for Joël.

We regularly discuss many issues, including the management of the pandemic.

In a democracy, it is healthy for everyone to be able to express their opinions.

Debate and discussion should be encouraged.

We all know people are eager to be done with the pandemic.

We’re all eager to be done with it.

Like Joël, I hear it at home, in Québec City and here, in Ottawa.

We also know that in order to get out of the pandemic phase of COVID, we must continue to work together, in a spirit of benevolence, by joining our forces against the virus.

This is true for vaccination and it is true for adherence to all the public health measures that are still in place.

For two years now, our government’s actions in the fight against COVID-19 have been based on prudence and science.

As we all know, science is continuously evolving and as we have done since the beginning of this pandemic, we will continue to base our decisions on the best available scientific information.

Now let’s be clear: the public health measures currently in place were always meant to be temporary.

Some will be with us for a long time, others will be lifted as soon as the epidemiological situation and science allow it.

That said, it is important to keep in mind that these measures are intended to limit the harm caused by the virus.

All measures are subject to constant re-evaluation and we will continue to adjust them according to science and the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

With the worst of Omicron now behind us, our government is actively reviewing the measures in place at our borders and we should be able to communicate changes on this very soon.

We would all like to know for sure what the next few weeks and months have in store for us, but after two years of this pandemic, we know that this virus will always find a way to surprise us.

We know that the question is not whether there will be other waves or other variants, but rather: when?

We all agree that we have to learn to live with the virus, but concretely, what does it mean to live with the virus?

Let me humbly suggest an answer to this question.

Firstly, I would say that living with the virus means that people have to stop dying from it in such large numbers.

Living with the virus means that the virus and our healthcare system must be able to coexist without the latter being paralyzed.

Without cancer patients being told that their surgeries will have to wait because our hospitals and our healthcare workers are overwhelmed by COVID.

Living with the virus means that we must – individually and collectively – maximize the use of the tools at our disposal to limit its transmission and limit the severity of infections.

Once transmission is under control and the severity of infections is limited, our healthcare system will be able to breathe again and most public health measures can be relaxed.

We are not there yet, but that day is fast approaching.

We must not give up now.

There is hope.

Living with the virus also means that we must be lucid and recognize that it is not only possible, but very likely that the coming months will hold other unpleasant surprises.

Living with the virus means that we must remember that we are not powerless in this situation.

We have power, we can help ourselves, and we must help ourselves.

We have the power to make it so that the public health restrictions are less severe and disrupt our social life and our economy as little as possible.

Our main tool for that remains – still and always: vaccination.

Even if we know that vaccination only partially prevents transmission of the Omicron variant, the science is unequivocal: vaccination DOES prevents severe complications.

If we can prevent severe complications, our hospitals and healthcare workers will not be overwhelmed.

If our hospitals and healthcare workers are not overwhelmed, then in turn, public health restrictions will be less severe.

It is obvious, but it is important to remember it: we have – individually and collectively – the power to change things.

Living with COVID means that we exercise this power.

That’s the only way to reduce the impact of the virus on our daily lives.

Now that the worst of Omicron is behind us, living with the virus means that we should not wait for the next variant or the next wave to restart our vaccination campaigns.

We must continue to administer as many doses as possible, including the first, second and booster doses, so that when the next wave or next variant comes, we are better prepared and more resilient.

50% of eligible Canadians have received their booster dose.

We must continue.

Together, we can do this. 

Marie-France Proulx

Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health



Media Relations

Public Health Agency of Canada